New Tool Sheds Light on Global Geothermal Energy Potentials

Online maps promise to decrease investment risk and increase development of geothermal energy

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E, 16 April 2015 - A new tool to investigate global geothermal energy potentials is now available online, just ahead of next week's World Geothermal Congress in Melbourne, Australia. The new and freely available gravity anomaly maps, the product of collaboration between the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), offer a new technique to gauge geothermal potentials around the world.


As geothermal energy exists underground, it is extremely difficult to measure. Accordingly, exploration is expensive, time consuming, and risky for investors and governments. This new technique, using Global Bouguer and Free Air Gravity Anomaly Maps, enables prospectors to gauge geothermal potentials at minimum risk and minimum cost.

"These maps can help make a strong business case for geothermal development where none existed before," said Henning Wuester, Director of IRENA's Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre. "In doing so, the tool provides a short-cut for lengthy and costly explorations and unlocks the potential of geothermal energy as a reliable and clean contribution to the world's energy mix."

The maps use ESA satellite gravity measurements to look for certain characteristics unique to geothermal reservoirs, including areas with thin crusts, subduction zones, and young magmatic activity. This helps determine which areas are most likely to possess geothermal potential, narrowing the search for prospectors.

"This is the first time that ESA's global gravity data from the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer satellite has been used as a tool for geothermal energy site exploration," said Volker Liebig, Director of ESA's Earth Observation Programmes. "ESA will continue its collaboration with IRENA to further improve space-based gravity data as a resource for sustainable energy development."

The publication of these maps is a first step towards developing a comprehensive geothermal prospecting technique. Future iterations could be produced at finer scales, integrating the satellite data locally with terrestrial data to further improve the quality of results.

The latest geothermal maps are a part of the Global Atlas portal, the most comprehensive repository of global renewable energy resource potential maps. The Atlas combines 1,000 maps from 67 governments and 50 data centres to provide access to the necessary datasets, expertise and financial support to help countries evaluate their national renewable energy potentials. Currently, 67 countries and more than 50 institutes and partners contribute to the initiative.

Visit the Global Atlas geothermal map: http://bit.ly/1ymUkEt
For more information on Global Gravity Maps: http://www.lithoflex.org/IRENA/

Featured Product

LG Solar Unveils NeON R with Enhanced Aesthetics and Energy Savings

LG Solar Unveils NeON R with Enhanced Aesthetics and Energy Savings

The NeON R module features "Back Contact" cell technology delivering an entirely black panel that is aesthetically pleasing and energy efficient. The cell's seamless, surface blends perfectly into nearly all rooftop designs while the module's electrodes are positioned on the rear of the cell. Using LG's N-type cell structure, the panels produce 365W of energy, up to 7.3kWp, compared to 5.8kWp of the p-type cell. The module's new design minimizes LID, thereby delivering a longer lifespan and increased energy output.